HERBERT ALLEN GILES (8 December 1845 – 13 February 1935) was a
British diplomat and sinologist who was the professor of Chinese at
CambridgeUniversity for 35 years. Giles was educated at Charterhouse
School before becoming a British diplomat in China. He modified a
Mandarin Chineseromanisation system established by Thomas Wade ,
resulting in the widely known
system. Among his many works were translations of the _Analects of
Confucius _, the _Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching) _, the _Chuang Tzu _, and, in
1892, the widely published _
A Chinese-English Dictionary_.
* 1 Biography
* 2 Legacy
* 3 Diplomatic postings
* 4 Awards
* 5 Written works
* 6 Translations
* 7 References
* 8 Sources
* 9 External links
Herbert A. Giles was the fourth son of John Allen Giles
Anglicanclergyman. After studying at Charterhouse ,
Herbert became a British diplomat to Qing China , serving from 1867 to
1892. He also spent several years (1885–1888) at Fort Santo Domingo
Tamsui, northern Taiwan . He was the father of Bertram, Valentine,
Lancelot, Edith, Mable, and
Lionel Giles. In 1897 Herbert Giles
became only the second professor of
Chinese languageappointed at the
Cambridge, succeeding Thomas Wade . At the time of his
appointment, there were no other sinologists at Cambridge. Giles was
therefore free to spend most of his time among the ancient Chinese
texts earlier donated by Wade, publishing what he chose to translate
from his eclectic reading in Chinese literature.
His later works include a history of the Chinese Pictorial Art in
1905 and his 1914
published in 1915 by
Williams and Norgate(de). He dedicated the
third edition of _
Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio_ (1916) to
his seven grandchildren, but at the end of his life was on speaking
terms with only one of his surviving children. An ardent agnostic, he
was also an enthusiastic freemason . He never became a
of the constituent colleges of the University of Cambridge, despite
being a university professor for 35 years. He finally retired in 1932,
and died in his ninetieth year.
Giles received the
Prix Julienaward from the
French Academyin 1897
for his _Chinese Biographical Dictionary_. Generally considered
unreliable among modern academics,
Endymion Wilkinsondescribed it
full of inaccuracies and the selection leaves much to be desired.
Between one third and a half of the dates are wrong because Giles
supposed that if somebody is recorded as having died in 1200 aged 63
he or she must have been born in 1137 (in most cases 1138 would have
been a better guess).
He also ran afoul of the Chinese scholar
Gu Hongming, who declared
Dr. Giles' Chinese biographical dictionary, it must be admitted, is a
work of immense labour. But here again Dr. Giles shows an utter lack
of the most ordinary judgment. In such a work, one would expect to
find notices only of really notable men.
Nor did Gu appreciate Giles' great _Chinese-English Dictionary_
describing it as
... in no sense a dictionary at all. It is merely a collection of
Chinese phrases and sentences, translated by Dr. Giles without any
attempt at selection, arrangement, order or method," and "decidedly of
less value than even the old dictionary of Dr. Williams."
Vice Consulat Pagoda Island, Mawei (1880–1883)
Vice Consulat Shanghai (1883–1885)
* British Consul at
* British Consul at
List of awards and honours:
Order of Chia-Ho
* Gold medal of the
Royal Asiatic Society
* Prix St. Julien by the
* Honorary degrees from the
University of Aberdeen(1897) and
* Giles, Herbert Allen (1872). _Chinese Without a Teacher_. A.H. de
* — (1873). _A Dictionary of Colloquial Idioms in the Mandarin
Dialect_. A.H. De Carvalho.
* — (1874). _Synoptical Studies in the Chinese Character_. Kelly &
* — (1876). _Chinese Sketches_. Trübner & Company. Archived from
the original on March 28, 2006.
* — (1877). _Record of the Buddhistic Kingdoms_. Trübner & Co.
* — (1877). _Handbook of the Swatow Dialect: With a Vocabulary. _.
* — (1877). _From Swatow to Canton: (overland)_. Trübner.
* — (1878). _A glossary of reference, on subjects connected with
the Far east_.
* — (1879). _On Some Translations and Mistranslations in Dr.
Williams\' Syllabic Dictionary of the Chinese Language_. A.A. Marçal.
* — (1892). _A Chinese-English Dictionary_. B. Quaritch. Volume 1
* — (1892). _A Chinese Biographical Dictionary_. B. Quaritch.
* — (1898). _Chinese Poetry in English Verse_.
* Wade, Thomas Francis;
CambridgeUniversity Library (1898). _A
catalog of the Wade collection of Chinese and Manchu books in the
library of the University of Cambridge_. Compiled by Herbert Allen
Giles. University Press. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
* — (1901). _
History of Chinese Literature_.
* _Great Religions of the World_ (1901)
* — (1901). _Chinese Without a Teacher: Being a Collection of Easy
and Useful Sentences in the Mandarin Dialect, with a Vocabulary_.
Kelly & Walsh, limited.
* — (1902). _China and the Chinese_. Columbia University Press,
The Macmillan company agents.
* Thomas Lowndes Bullock; Herbert Allen Giles (1902). _Progressive
Exercises in the Chinese Written Language_. Kelly & Walsh, limited.
* Launcelot Cranmer-Byng; Herbert Allen Giles (1902). _The
never-ending wrong: and other renderings of the Chinese from the prose
translations of Herbert A. Giles_. Grant Richards.
* Giles, Herbert Allen (1905). _An Introduction to the History of
Chinese Pictorial Art_. Keloy & Walsh, ld.
* _The Religions of Ancient China_ (1906)
* — (1911). _Chinese Fairy Tales_.
* — (1911). _ The Civilization of China_.
* — (1912). _China and the Manchus_. The University Press.
* "China" in _History of the Nations_ (1913)
Confucianismand Its Rivals_ (1915)
* _How to Begin Chinese: The Hundred Best Characters_ (1919)
* _The Second Hundred Best Characters_ (1922)
* _Revision of Bullock's Progressive Exercises_ (1922)
* _Chuang Tzǔ: Mystic, Moralist, and Social Reformer_ (1926,
* _The Chinese and Their Food_ (_Zhonghua Fanshi_) (1947, Shanghai)
* "The Memoirs of H.A. Giles," _East Asian History_ 13 (1997):
1–90. Dated 1925.
* Sungling P'u (1880). _Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio_. T.
De la Rue & Company.
* Lao Tzu (1886). _The Remains of Lao Tzu_.
* ^ "Herbert Allen GILES (1845–1935)" on the
* ^ "Giles, Herbert Allen (GLS932HA)". _A
Database_. University of Cambridge.
* ^ Aylmer, Charles,
East Asian History13–14, 1997, pp. 1–7;
Sterckx, Roel, _In the Fields of Shennong: An inaugural lecture
delivered before the University of
Cambridgeon 30 September 2008 to
mark the establishment of the Joseph Needham Professorship of Chinese
History, Science and Civilization_. Cambridge: Needham Research
* ^ "_An Introduction to the History of Chinese Pictorial Art_ by
Herbert A. Giles". _The Burlington Magazine for Connoisseurs_. 7 (29):
405. August 1905.
* ^ Chavannes, Ed. (1905). "_An Introduction to the History of
Chinese Pictorial Art_ by H. A. Giles". _T'oung Pao_. Second Series. 6
* ^ Giles, Herbert A. (January 1916). "
The Journal of Race Development_. 6 (3): 350. JSTOR
29738158 . doi :10.2307/29738158 .
* ^ Schlegel, G. (1897). "古今姓氏族譜, _A Chinese
Biographical Dictionary_ by Herbert A. Giles". _T'oung Pao_. 8 (4):
* ^ Kennedy, George A. (July–September 1950). "Dates in Giles'
Biographical Dictionary". _Journal of the American Oriental Society_.
70 (3): 188–189.
JSTOR596269 . doi :10.2307/596269 .
Endymion Wilkinson(2000). _Chinese History: A Manual_. Harvard
University Asia Center . p. 157. ISBN 978-0-674-00249-4 .
* ^ "A Great Sinologue," in _The Spirit of the Chinese People_
* ^ Ryan, Janette. "Giles, Herbert Allen (1845–1935)". _Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography_ (2004 ed.).
doi :10.1093/ref:odnb/33401 . Accessed 29 August 2016.
* Cooley, James C., Jr. _T.F. Wade in China: Pioneer in Global
Diplomacy 1842–1882._ Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1981.
* Minford, John and Tong Man. "Whose Strange Stories? P\'u Sung-ling
Herbert Giles(1845–1935), and the _Liao-chai
East Asian History_ 17/18 (1999), pp. 1–48.
Accessed 1 February 2014.
* Giles, Herbert, Edited and with an Introduction by Charles Aylmer,
"The Memoirs of H.A. Giles, The," East Asian History.13 (1997):
* _ This article incorporates text from a publication now in the
public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "article name needed".
Encyclopædia Britannica _ (11th ed.).
* United Kingdom portal
* Biography portal
* China portal